21 Books I Want To Read In 2021

Happy New Year, my angels!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

It’s my favorite time of the year (the end, that is) where I get to make a gigantic list of books that I may never get to! I’ve loved looking through all of the books everyone is excited for in the new year, and I couldn’t pass up making one myself.

With all of the shit that we have and continue to endure this year, I need some wholesome book discussions to distract me from the harshness of reality. What better way to do that then ranting and raving about 21 books I’m excited to read? (There’s not one.)

Judging from last years 20 Books I Want To Read In 2020, and the fact that I’m starting grad school in January, I doubt I’ll read every book on this list, but this is all about having fun! Plus, I hope making this list encourages me to read books outside of school, which I rarely ever do, and maybe I won’t feel so burned out like I did during undergrad — fingers-crossed!

Now, enough of my incessant blabbering. Let’s get into my 21 Books I Want To Read In 2021!

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The TBR

As you probably guessed, my list contains a ton of classics, but I made it my mission to throw in a few contemporaries and fantasies to: A) spice up my typical reading style and B) have options other than classics in case grad school puts me in the mood to set them all on fire haha!

(Disclaimer: I would never in my life want to Fahrenheit 451 my books — this is an exaggeration.)

Enjoy!

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Much like the foods that look too good to eat, I tend to save the books I’m most excited about for a rainy day. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is a prime example of this.

I’ve been wanting to read Rebecca ever since I discovered du Maurier, but I keep putting it off for the “right time.” What better time will there ever be other than the present? 2021 is going to be the year that I read all of the books I’ve been meaning to for years, mark my words!

Anxious People – Fredrik Backman

Not a specific book that I’ve been dying to read, but an author I’ve been dying to read!

Fredrik Backman is an author I’ve always wanted to try out, mainly based on his beautiful book covers, but, for some reason, I have yet to pick up anything from him. When Anxious People released, I decided it was time to give ol’ Backman a go. As a person who is absolutely riddled with anxiety, I’d like to see what this book is all about. I’ve heard only good things about Backman’s writing, and I’m excited to finally give his books a try!

The Memory Police – Yōko Ogawa

As a lover of George Orwell’s 1984, it would be a disgrace to not include The Memory Police in books I want to read in the new year. From what I’ve heard and read, Ogawa’s dystopian novel resembles and includes a similar state surveillance/mind-altering theme to 1984, which is right up my ally. I am a little scared because I’ve heard a few mixed reviews about The Memory Police, but I’m trying my best to keep it unbiased!

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo

The remarkable and gigantic French Revolution tragedy: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

Future Zoe here. This book is actually about the June Rebellion of 1832 (thank you mphtheatregirl!), not the French Revolution. Always double check your research, kids!

When the film adaptation released in 2012 with Anne Hathaway, I feel like everyone and their mother was talking about this story. To be honest, I never watched the movie (yikes, I know), but I like to blame my ignorant adolescence for that. 15-year-old Zoe was more interested in Breaking Dawn Part 2‘s release, apparently, but I can’t really blame her.

I’ve been studying French and French culture for the past few years, and it’s inspired me to read more French literature (how many times do I need to use the word “French” in one sentence?). I’m not gonna lie, the popularity and hype over the film Les Misérables made me choose this novel as my first French book — mainly because I love comparing the book to the movie (especially if it’s good!). I would really like to finish the book before watching the movie, and it’s a whopping 1400+ pages, so I better get started pretty soon!

Anna Karenina – Leo tolstoy

Are you all tired of seeing Anna Karenina as much as I am?? I feel like I’ve put this book in a lot of TBR’s, and I still haven’t picked it up! I don’t know if it’s the size of the novel — it’s a hefty book, as well — or the fact that I don’t know much about it, but I’m always intimidated to read it. I’m thinking I need to bite the bullet and just start reading it — maybe tonight?

Hopefully, Anna Karenina won’t be popping up on anymore future TBR’s!

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Much like Fredrik Backman, Toni Morrison is another author that I’ve been dying to read. I somehow made it through 15 years of school without being assigned The Bluest Eye, and I feel like I’ve missed out on a ton. Since this is Morrison’s first novel, I decided it would be a good place to start! Hopefully, this will be one of many Toni Morrison reads!

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

I first read Circe by Madeline Miller a couple of years ago, and I absolutely loved it! — I even wrote a paper on it for school. I’m a mega simp when it comes to Greek mythology, and Miller’s feminist retelling of Circe, the witch of Aeaea, was both beautifully written and thought-provoking. Like, you all seriously need to pick it up if you love classical antiquity retellings — it’s incredible.

Since I adored Circe so much, I have a pretty good feeling that I’m going to love The Song of Achilles, especially since the reviews are fantastic. I think this is going to be one of those books I read in between school readings to relax a little, and I’m stoked!

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The Italian – Ann Radcliffe

I don’t know much about Ann Radcliffe, other than Jane Austen adored her and she wrote Gothic fiction. Apparently she is “the Shakespeare of romantic writer,” so that intrigues me even more — what a title!

I read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abby, a parody of the Gothic novel, last year and adored it. Since I loved Austen’s version, I’m interested to see the work that inspired her. I know The Mysteries of Udolpho is Radcliffe’s more well-known work, but there’s something about The Italian that makes me want to pick it up first. We’re going purely off of vibes with this one, people!

The Farm – Joanne Ramos

Joanne Ramos’ The Farm was pretty popular on BookTube, and it’s caught my eye for the 2021 year. The Farm gives me Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World vibes because it’s about an exclusive amenity-filled retreat that pays you to stay there, but the catch is that you belong to the Farm and are monitored for 9 months while you dedicate all of your time to producing the perfect baby. That sounds fucking bananas, right?? I’m so excited to get to this book!

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

My boyfriend and I recently watched the Hulu adaptation of Catch-22 and absolutely loved it!

Like I said earlier, I usually read the book before I watch adaptations, but I truly never thought I would want to read Catch-22. I don’t typically pick up books about warfare because it doesn’t appeal to me that much, even though I do find the WWII era incredibly interesting; however, once we finished the series, I immediately knew that I had to pick up this book soon. I’m not sure how accurately the series follows the book, but if it’s anything close to it, it’s going to be a stellar novel.

Honestly, the only thing I’m kind of afraid of is the writing. I’m not trying to bash any writers by any means, but, personally, I’ve noticed novels written about war tend to have somewhat dry and dull writing, even though the events and characters are intriguing. Of course, this is simply my own opinion, and I’m hoping Joseph Heller proves me wrong.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s life has always both fascinated and saddened me. I’ve been meaning to read one of her works since high school, it seems. My friend, Matthew, read The Bell Jar recently and said I had to read it; therefore, it’s included in this list!

Since The Bell Jar is semi-autobiographical, I’m looking forward to learning more about Sylvia Plath’s life, as well as just listening to what she had to say.

Olivia – Dorothy Strachey

Funny enough, I randomly came across Olivia by Dorothy Strachey on Goodreads, and I knew it was something I had to read. The blurb on Goodreads states that Olivia is “considered one of the most subtle and beautifully written lesbian novels of the century” (yes pls!).

The 1949 novel follows Olivia as she develops an infatuation for her headmistress at a finishing school outside of Paris while also observing the romance between her headmistress and the other head of the school. I haven’t read many LGBTQ+ books, but I definitely want to change that, and Olivia sounds like the perfect start. Olivia is definitely high up on my reading list for the new year!

(Also, pls send more recommendations for LGBTQ+ books — classics, if possible!)

Poems and Fragments – Sappho

Much like Dorothy Strachey, Sappho is another author that I found while precariously scrolling through Goodreads that I immediately decided “I need to read their works.”

Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyric poet, and it could be my ignorance, but I haven’t heard of many female poets of classical antiquity. I’m interested to see how her poems differ from the more common poets, like Homer and Vergil. Plus, I’ve been in the mood to read more poetry lately, so we’re killing two birds with one stone!

Milton in Purgatory – Edward Vass

Yet another book that I found unexpectedly while perusing Goodreads. I think we’re all aware that I’m obsessed with Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, so as soon as I saw Edward Vass’ novella inspired by Purgatorio, I immediately added it to my TBR. It’s a pretty underrated book, with only 69 ratings on Goodreads, but they’re overall positive reviews.

Also, even though it doesn’t say anything about John Milton, I’m curious to see if there’s any allusions to him or Paradise Lost since the main character’s name is Milton. Could be a stylistic choice, but it’s rad either way!

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The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

Another BookTube favorite! I’ve heard great reviews about The Master and Margarita, and it’s one that I’m constantly seeing all over Instagram and Goodreads — probably from the stunning cover. I’m not too sure what it’s about, but I’m curious to see why everyone likes it!

Beautiful Boy – David Sheff

In 2021, I’d like to read more nonfiction books — especially memoirs. Reading and learning from others’ journeys through life can be inspiring and so rewarding.

I’ve been wanting to pick up David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy ever since the movie adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell was released, but I never set it as a top priority of mine. Beautiful Boy is a memoir that follows a father coping with and attempting to help his son’s addiction to crystal meth. It definitely is a heavy topic (trigger warning for drug abuse), but I think it’s an important one to discuss.

Sheff’s son, Nic, also wrote his own memoir, Tweak, about his journey with addiction that I also really want to read. These are going to be some tough reads, emotionally, but I’m still excited for them, nonetheless.

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

I’m going to be honest with you guys, as I always am, and let you know that I want to read this purely based off of the cover. I want this book on my shelves so bad it hurts! It’s just so fucking beautiful.

Cover aside, I’ve heard The Priory of the Orange Tree is one of the best fantasy standalones in the book community. I typically don’t read fantasies because the really good stories are usually super long series, but I finally found a fantasy book that’s a standalone, even if it is still a massive novel. The only thing I really know about The Priory of the Orange Tree is that it has dragons, and, honestly, that’s all you have to tell me.

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living – Manjula Martin

Trying to break into the writing industry has been challenging for me, to say the least. Since making a living from writing is a weird, taboo concept, it becomes a difficult field to try and navigate. To help improve my overall understanding of writers and their livings, I’m dying to pick up Manjula Martin’s Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living.

Martin’s Scratch combines personal essays and interviews with popular and up-and-coming authors on how writers make their living. I’m hoping their stories and journeys both inspire and educate me for my (hopefully) future writing career. I’m normally not a fan of nonfiction books, but I’m super excited to read this in the new year!

The Stand – Stephen King

Coronavirus completely obliterated 2020, taking hundreds of thousands of lives and ruining millions; there’s no secret about it. The entire process has been chaotic, confusing, and stressful. Naturally, I’ve been finding myself wanting to read books (fiction and nonfiction) that explore pandemics, illnesses, etc. as a result.

Stephen King’s The Stand has been on my radar for a few years, mainly because of the raving reviews, but I’ve never really wanted to pick it up until now — Coronavirus is partially to blame. King’s post-apocalyptic novel follows the world after a weaponized strain of the flu kills 99% of its population.

Like many of King’s novels, The Stand is a thick and hefty bitch — my edition tops out at 1440 pages!!! Even though the size intimidates me, the amount of hype and love surrounding this book motivates me to give it a go! Let’s just hope it doesn’t take all of 2021 to finish it.

The Plague – Albert Camus

Speaking of stories that center around pandemics, The Plague by Albert Camus is another book I’ve had my eye on for the upcoming year. Much like its title suggests, The Plague takes place in the midst of the Bubonic plague as it overtakes France. Not only is this story set during a worldwide pandemic, but it’s also written by a French author, so it hits both of my reading goals! A double whammy, if you will.

At first, I was going to pick up The Stranger by Albert Camus, since it is his most popular work, but The Plague popped up on my Goodreads, and I knew it was fate. Given the circumstances and the state of the world, The Stranger will have to wait.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

Last, but certainly not least, we have the classic Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë to end this enormous list. Surprisingly, I don’t know much about this book, even though everyone seems to rant and rave about fantastic it is. I think it’s a love story, or maybe a tragedy? Either way, I’m interested to see why Emily Brontë’s novel has captured and adored so many hearts.

Unlike all of the other books on this list, I will be reading Wuthering Heights for sure because it’s part of my required reading for grad school; however, I was planning on reading it in 2021, so I decided to include it anyways. I feel like Brontë’s book is one of those books you have to read in your lifetime, and I’m looking forward to checking it off!

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The Inspiration

2020 has been such a shit year — probably the shittiest year of my life, tbh — but the new year has me excited for new memories, opportunities, and reading!

I hope 2021 feels your life with love, happiness, joy, and the best books imaginable.

Let me know what you’re hoping to read in the new year!

Life Update | I’m a graduate student!

Hello, sweet peas! Long time, no see!

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA recently, but, to be fair, it’s been for a good cause. As you can tell by the title, I got accepted into graduate school and will be begin studying for my Master’s degree in English this January, as well as working as a part-time research assistant for the English department!

*cue internalized screaming*

I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I realize I’m speaking from a place of privilege and luck to have the option to attend school. I wish more than anything in this world for education to be more accessible and affordable. To be honest, if it wasn’t for my research assistantship scholarship waiving my tuition, graduate school probably wouldn’t have been an option — my undergrad studies put me in enough debt as it is. It’s cruel, unjust, and simply absurd to force people to pay thousands of dollars for wanting to further their studies after high school, but hey, that’s American capitalism and oppression for ya!

Anyways, after multiple last-minute e-mails and weeks of anxious waiting, I finally received my acceptance letter. Honestly, I didn’t plan on going to graduate school after completing undergrad, mainly from burnout, but a very reflective and confusing gap year changed my mind.

In the last year, I realized I love literature, the power it has to transform and guide a reader’s life, and gushing to people about it! If it wasn’t for books, I don’t even know what type of person I would be now. Plus, I surprisingly miss school. So, with all of this in mind, I decided to pursue graduate school in hopes of becoming a professor one day.

I’ve had so many wonderful and wise teachers throughout my lifetime, as well as some god-awful ones. However, it’s both the awesome and terrible teachers that make me want to become a professor. Of course, I want to make my previous professors proud and provide for students the same way they did for me, but, more than anything, I want to do better justice to English literature than the awful “teachers” I once had.

I remember all of the literature survey studies I took throughout undergrad that inevitably started with something along the lines of “I know you all don’t want to be learning about stories and are only here for the credit and probably won’t show up…” Can you say heartbreaking? It would infuriate me because the entire purpose of a professor is to get students engaged in their topics and discussions; not admitting students annoyance and pre-failure. I kid you not, almost every literature survey I attended was like that, and I really want to defeat this odd taboo that reading is boring and meaningless. Literature opened me up to a world and mindset that I never thought was possible, and I hope to help someone along that same journey.

But yeah! I’m super stoked to get back into the academic world and feel at home again. I have a lot of blog post ideas planned, as well, so be on the lookout for those!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! Stay safe, my love bugs!

My Wintry TBR | more classics & character analysis’s

hello, my loves! I hope you all are doing well and staying safe!

I recently watched Jess from sunbeamsjess’ Wintry Book Recommendations, and it inspired me to create my own wintry TBR. I don’t typically choose my reading lists based on the seasons, but what the hell! It’s never too late to try something new.

I realize it’s not winter for everyone, but I hope you all can still find some decent recommendations.

Without further adieu, onto the books!

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The Books

Since I’m not a seasonal reader, I’m not exactly sure what makes a “winter read,” so I’m kind of winging it. Personally, I’m in the mood to read longer books, quite a few classics, and books set during the winter time, of course, so that’s exactly what this TBR contains.

Enjoy!

A Tale of Two Cities & Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Much like Jess said, it wouldn’t be a true winter reading list without some Dickens, so I decided to include two!

I’m not going to lie, I’ve never read a Dickens novel — I tried starting A Tale of Two Cities a few months ago, but I ended up putting it down (mood reading, amirite?). Of course, I know the plot of A Christmas Carol thanks to the movie adaptations, but I’m ashamed I’ve never read a Dickens book.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to finally put one of these beauties on my Goodreads “read” shelf!

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh

To be fair, I technically have already started reading Eileen — well, a page or two.

I have no idea what this book is about, but I’ve heard wonderful things about Ottessa Moshfegh’s other book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize Eileen was one of her books until I took a double take at the cover — not much gets by me, obviously.

Even though I’m unfamiliar with the plot, I decided to incorporate it into my wintry reads solely based off the cover: the isolated car, the snowflakes falling, the red and black contrast. I love it all!

I’m also super stoked to pick this up simply because it gives off character analysis vibes, which we all know I LOVE. I mean, it’s called Eileen, so what’s this woman all about?

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

If you’ve been following me since the beginning of my blog, you’re probably tired of seeing Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina plastered on a ton of my TBRs. Hopefully, this will be the last!

Around the winter time, I always have the urge to read hefty, chunky books or a small series, so what better time to pick up Anna Karenina? Plus, the snowy buildings on the cover, as well as the outfit, screams winter season!

Anyone up for a buddy read to keep me motivated? Or maybe I can host one on my Instagram? Let me know if you’d like to see that!

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (Reread)

Before I get called out and dragged in the comments, no this is not a very “wintry” read, but hear me out.

I read this last year for my dystopian British novel course, and I completely fell in love with Burgess’ violent British society, as well as our “humble narrator,” little Alex.

I decided to include A Clockwork Orange into my wintry reads because it deals with a lot of reflection, which I seem to do a lot of when daylight savings hits and the days get shorter and shorter. With discussions of free will, violence, and a deep-dive into Alex’s complex character, A Clockwork Orange is a perfect read for my winter season. Plus, it’s a pretty short read.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

Forgive me for my horrid copy of Wuthering Heights — I really need be on the lookout for a single copy soon.

Much like Dickens, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights — cue the “boo’s.” It’s yet another one of those novels that I’ve been meaning to get to, but never got around to it. I always see this book recommended for the fall season, so I’m going to see if that also rolls over into winter (fingers crossed!).

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The End

I’m feeling very hopeful about my reading endeavors for the next few months!

I’ve had a lot more time and motivation to read lately — I can only thank the cold weather. Do you all feel more productive during the winter, or is it just me? I’ve been feeling a lot more creative, and I have so many ideas to do so many things. Tis the season of reflection!

Let me know what you all are excited to read in the next few months! Stay safe!

Why I Love Reading Classics | Words and Time Travel

Classic literature is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. Whenever I peruse the shelves for something to read or buy, I always end up grabbing a Jane Austen novel or a Shakespeare play over a newer contemporary or thriller.

Don’t get me wrong, I do read modern books, but there’s something enchanting about classics that I just can’t resist.

I often feel left out since most enjoy reading more popular books, but then again, I may just not have found my people yet!

In the wise words of Mark Twain, “‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”

I often find myself feeling uncomfortable expressing my love for Plato and Dante to the average human, as well as bringing up John Milton’s Paradise Lost as a book recommendation. Their responses are typically confused looks and some small words of encouragement.

Nevertheless, I will continue to spread my love for dense, thematic literature until my face turns blue, even despite the painful interactions.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about classics is you know it’ll be an enjoyable and enriching read (for the most part).

I mean, it’s well-known for a reason, right?

Of course, not everyone is going to like reading a classic if that’s not the type of writing style you enjoy, but this is just my reading experience.

Also, when I read a classic, I feel like I’ve been teleported back to that time period.

How were women viewed in Ancient Greek? What did people think of England and its government during the Renaissance? How do people view the world? What do people think about the Bible? All of these questions, and countless more, can be answered through reading literature.

Even with their fictitious elements, classics are encapsilated by their author’s language. As an avid studier of language and how it evolves, I love exploring previous cultures and how they utilized their word choice, structure, etc. The author’s language shapes the world that they are living in through their own perspective.

I don’t really know where I was going with that. I just love how writers have the ability to create a world that readers feel like they have truly explored and experienced.

Lastly, I love how much classics teach you about yourself.

Take Dante’s Divine Comedy, for instance. By following Dante along side his own journey of self-actualization, the reader is able to reflect on their own person and assess things about themself.

As a real life scenario, I have a friend that took a Dante class with me, and he explained that following Dante’s journey through depression helped him out of his own depression. Now he’s completing a thesis all about bibliotherapy (therapy through books) and the power of bibliotherapy for mental health.

If that isn’t the most impactful example of classics and how they shape you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own reading taste, and mine just happens to be classics!

Maybe one day I’ll explore a wider variety of more modern novels, but I think I’m comfortable in my cozy classics for now.

What kind of books do you like and why? I’d love to hear some recommendations!

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay stuck in a book.

Finding Good Things In Bad Times and Gushing Over Dante Alighieri

I don’t know if it’s the abundance of Vitamin D, the depletion of my seasonal depression, or my inner introvert thriving during this self-isolation, but I have been feeling pretty damn good lately.

Minus the constant anxiety of a rapidly growing pandemic, of course.

Since this time can be very stressful and panic-inducing, I’ve been trying hard to stay physically and mentally busy.

Physically, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging the hell out of my apartment.

After working 48 hours a week while having a major depressive episode, it was safe to say that my apartment was absolutely disgusting. The dishes piled in the sink looked like a picture out of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, and there was enough dog hair to make at least one wig. And don’t even get me started on the amount of dirty laundry scattered in every nook and cranny.

In short, it was horrible.

So, I took all of this new free time to finally finish chores, as well as move around some furniture and organize a bunch of clutter that I’ve been putting off since we moved in at the end of November.

Nothing feels better than a clean house.

Well, it’s next to taking your socks off at the end of the day. That shit hits hard.

But I digress.

Mentally, I’m happy to say that I am ridden of both my reading and writing blocks!

It all began when I picked up Dante’s Inferno to reread for the third time, and now I can’t get enough of it. I’m currently reading the Robert Durling translation that I used for my Dante class a year ago, and I’m completely enveloped in Dante’s fictitious world.

I find myself incessantly highlighting and making notes on every page. While I was taking the course, I never really dedicated the time to fully analyze everything this divine epic has to offer because I was trying to also get assignments and readings done for my other classes. But even when speed reading it, I still loved it, and it became one of my all time favorites.

Now that I have the chance to interact with Dante’s Inferno intimately, it’s almost become a part of me, as cheesy as that is to write out (it physically pains me to, tbh).

By following Dante along his journey of self-loss, as well as literally facing his demons and enemies in Hell, he invokes the reader to follow and learn from his metaphorical journey.

And trust me, there is PLENTY to learn from Dante Alighieri. Rereading wise, I’m only on Canto 9 (and I’m already gushing about it this much), but the amount of wisdom within each canto is abundant, for sure.

This poem sparked a new found inspiration that was apparently buried deep down. Now, all I want to do is write, read, and ponder these philosophical questions of morality and humanism. Hopefully I’ll be able to practice my essay writing skills and bust out a few discussions on Dante’s truly divine epic.

Even though I have to go back to work in a week, (apparently liquor stores are essential in a pandemic?), I’m going to try and enjoy my small amount of free time as much as I can.

Much like every other person online, I’m going to try and make more content for everyone to enjoy during these isolating and scary times. I hope you all are staying safe, staying hopeful and staying home!

Thank you for coming to my Dante TedTalk and allowing me to gush about literature. It makes my bookworm heart very happy!